Arise Virtual Solutions, a company that has been in business since 1997 and utilizes home workers to handle customer contact for their customers. From the Arise website:
Arise customizes and delivers virtual business process outsourcing services, including high quality voice, email, chat and mobile customer service, sales and technical support. Access a network of over 25,000 professionals providing better customer experiences.
In a shorter definition, Arise offers call center services for companies who wish to outsource that function, and all the call center agents with Arise work from home.
I have extensive experience working with Arise for approximately 7 years*. Like all companies, there are pros and cons, and this will be a review based on my own personal experience and observations, and may not necessarily be the experience or opinion of others who have worked or do work with Arise. I am going to focus on what makes Arise different from other call centers, and assume that the average reader will be familiar with the type of work performed at a call centers. Also, for the reader’s clarification, “client” used in the context of this review means a client of Arise, in other words, the company that partners with Arise to receive call center support services.
Part 1 – Getting Started
In the virtual call center industry, Arise’s business model is fairly unique. They do not hire agents as employees, which is not particularly unusual, however, they only contract with corporations, which is fairly uncommon in the work at home industry. What this means is that you create a company and incorporate (actually not as complicated as it sounds) and your corporation then has a contract directly with Arise, and you then are technically working for your own company, and can in fact even bring more agents into your corporation to work with Arise as well. Therefore, the alternative, if establishing a corporation is not something you want to do, is to sign up with an existing corporation working with Arise, of which there are many. There are advantages and disadvantages to both of those options, incorporating at the very least will require a cost which varies considerably depending on the state you incorporate in, as well as any other expenses you might incur if you seek out professionals to assist you in the process, such as accountants. If you do choose to incorporate, once you actually begin working with a client and earning money, Arise will also charge a monthly service fee of approximately $40 (and that is per agent working on that corporation). The process of incorporating can seem daunting to some people—however, keep in mind there are thousands of agents who have gone through this process of working with Arise and found it to be very successful (including myself).
The alternative option of joining an existing corporation will save start-up costs and time and effort, but keep in mind that the corporation that you sign on with will be taking a percentage or a specific dollar amount from your earnings to cover their expenses of having you associated with their corporation, and yes, that is a way to make a profit for their corporation as well. The fee structure can vary considerably from one corporation to another, so make sure to shop around before signing up with any one corporation (within Arise known as an “IBO”, Independent Business Owner.) Also of note is that different corporations may offer other incentives or in fact other fees to their agents, so make sure you get complete information. Signing on with an existing corporation, you should expect to have a support system and receive coaching, tips, and other helpful information, which definitely is a great benefit and value. Of note is that you are also able to change the corporation you are associated with, and continue working with Arise and keep your clients and schedule without any difficulty.
So once signed up, either as your own corporation or with an existing one, there will be initial costs involved, a small fee for a background check, (typically around $12, but can be as much as $25, depending on your state), and the cost of the initial training, which is $99. These initial steps, the background check, signing up, training, etc., can be done in a relatively short period of time, definitely less than a week. Once you have completed those steps, you are ready to look at available “opportunities.”
This is one of the biggest differences between Arise and many other online call centers. By becoming a “Client Support Professional” (CSP) – the Arise title for call center agent – you have joined a pool of agents, currently numbering over 25,000. Arise handles a large list of clients, well known brand name, Fortune 500 companies, and agents are not assigned to a client they will be working for, but are able to request which company they would like to work with.
Agents watch for opportunities, which means when there is a need for agents with a specific client, Arise schedules a training class, and posts the opportunity so agents who would like to work with that client can express interest. Typically this will be at least several weeks before the class is going to start.
Agents can read the posted information describing the opportunity, which will also cover pay, scheduling, and specific requirements and responsibilities. The times and dates of the class will be covered, as well as the fee. Yes, there is a fee for the training, typically anywhere from $35 to $300, sometimes with an option to pay in installments. (Fees will be discussed in detail in the Pros and Cons section of this article series.) Occasionally there are incentives for completing the class, if so, that will be described as well in this information. You will not be paid for your time in the class. Classes are usually 4 hours in length, 5 days a week, and can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks, with 4 weeks being the most common. You can expect to also spend time doing coursework and studying in addition to the 4 hours of class.
If an agent is interested in the opportunity, they complete the form indicating their interest, and no payment will be required until accepted into the class. There is no guarantee of being accepted into the class, but once you are and you pay, you are secured that spot.
If you are accepted into the class, you make your payment, complete your training, begin working, and of course, earning money.
Watch for the next article, All About Working, for the continuation in this four-part series and in-depth review of Arise Virtual Solutions.
*Editor’s Note: In the interest of disclosure, I do want to make it clear that while I am not currently working with any client with Arise, I do have an existing contract with them. However, no compensation was provided for this review.